History Careers - Teaching at home and around the world

teaching is an art which takes years to develop

David Walker attended Manchester Grammar School before graduating from Keble College, Oxford with a BA in Modern History.

David Walker

Career Summary

History teacher, Bartley Secondary School, 1965 – 66

History teacher, Calday Grange Grammar School, 1966 – 69

Head of History, Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, 1969 – 73

Head of History, Tal Handaq School, Malta, 1973 – 79

Head of Upper School & History, Prince Rupert School, Germany, 1978 – 94

Head of Humanities, 1994 – 1999 and then Deputy Head Academic, 1999 – 2011, Chinese International School, Hong Kong

Private Tutoring, IBDP & A Level History, 2011 - present


My interest in teaching History as a career was initially evoked by a number of teachers at school and university, predominantly two teachers at Manchester Grammar School (in Years 10 and 12-13) and my personal and mediaeval history tutor at Keble, Dr Eric Stone, to whom I owe much. My first teaching post in an 11-16 secondary school in the New Forest, without having done a PGCE, was more challenging than I anticipated, particularly from the aspect of teaching technique and class control. With the support of my fiancée, soon to be my wife, then in the final year of her BEd, and one of her college tutors, an historian, I came through it, energised to succeed in my next school. There I was again fortunate in the example and guidance of my Head of Department, who I tried to emulate, with some success, when I got my first departmental headship in Nottinghamshire three years later.

So my advice to any aspiring young History teachers is learn from the experience and example of your teachers and seniors (assuming that they are good at their job). Don’t be disheartened by the initial trials you will inevitably experience. Take the long view; teaching is an art which takes years to develop to the point where you develop the confidence and expertise to feel real job satisfaction, especially as your command of your subject is constantly broadening and deepening. Also, be humble enough to learn from your students’ responses to your teaching: if it’s working for them, they will show it (the reverse is also true!).

Moving overseas after eight years teaching in UK was impulsive, explorational, not premeditated. My wife and I, with one young son and another very much on the way, wanted to experience living in a different country before ‘settling down’. The opportunity to teach for SCEA (Service Children’s Education Authority) as an Head of Department for History at a tri-service secondary school in Malta appeared in the weekly trawl through the vacancies advertised in the TES. The experience there surpassed all expectations, both professionally and personally. When after five years a move was made inevitable by the political situation, we decided not to return to UK (where I was still on secondment with Nottinghamshire CC), but to accept the offer of another Head of Department post in a SCEA/British Army school in Germany. A three year initial ‘tour’ turned into sixteen, with promotion to Head of Upper School in addition to a pretty full History teaching timetable. The opportunity for extensive travel in the holidays, from Portugal to Eastern Turkey, was an incentive to accept further ‘tours’. However, by the early 1990s, the international political situation again played a role in our decision to move from Germany to Hong Kong and from a shrinking SCEA to a young independent school, where we both enjoyed teaching Chinese and international students. Again, in our seventeen years there, personal and professional expectations were exceeded many times over.

Final advice

Keep an open mind on career opportunities as they present themselves or, if they don’t, go and seek them. Be prepared to move, especially in the early years. Keep on reading History (still my prime reading focus) and enthuse your students as you yourself have been enthused. It is of fundamental importance in a fast changing world for young people to develop their own historical understanding and perspective - with your help.

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